Remembering the Victims of Manhattan's Rising Murder Rate
By Jon Schuppe, Ben Fractenberg and Jason Tucker
MANHATTAN — Eight-year-old Anthony Maldonado was stabbed to death Jan. 2, 2010 as he played video games with his older cousin.
Maurice Gibson, 33, was shot in the back on an East Harlem street two days before Christmas.
Their deaths, nearly 12 months apart, are now sad bookends to a year in which the number of murders spiked in Manhattan. In total, the borough recorded 70 murders last year, up from a record low of 59 in 2009, according to police. The bump reflected an increase of about 18.6 percent from 2009’s record low in Manhattan, amid an almost 13 percent rise citywide.
DNAinfo has been tracking details of all of Manhattan's 2010 murder victims, and so far has detailed information on 64 of the 70.
Many of those murders captured the entire city’s attention: fashion designer Sylvie Cachay found strangled in the SoHo House, Harlem nun Sister Mary Celine Graham run down by car thieves, autistic 8-year-old Jude Mirra was allegedly fed an overdose of prescription pills by his mother in the Peninsula Hotel, filmmaker Karen Schmeer struck by robbers driving a getaway car, 71-year-old Henry Menahem gunned down in a Madison Avenue jewelry store heist. Betty Williams, 28, was found strangled and stuffed inside a suitcase.
But many more of the victims went largely unnoticed. Some were criminals themselves. Others were battered wives, like 29-year-old Massielle Abreu, or recent immigrants, like 18-year-old Mohamed Jalloh. Many had the misfortune of dying in places where violence is so common that it doesn’t always make the news.
Harlem bore the brunt of Manhattan’s murders. Nearly half of 2010's murders in the borough were committed there, leading to police crackdowns and street protests.
The flashpoint came in early August, when officers opened fire on two men who were fighting over a gun after a cookout. One of the men died, leading to allegations of overzealous policing. But many residents blamed the rising violence on young people who carried illegal guns and joined street gangs.
At year’s end, the five police precincts in Harlem recorded a 55 percent increase in murders. The worst of it was in the 25th Precinct in East Harlem, where murders rose from 3 in 2009 to 13 in 2010, and the 30th Precinct in Sugar Hill and Hamilton Heights, where murders jumped from 1 to 7.
Despite the murder increase, overall crime declined in 2010 in Manhattan, led by big drops in property crimes.
And even the total number of murders, including the 69 recorded by police in Manhattan, still ranks among the lowest totals since the early 1960s.
Asked about the murder statistics, Mayor Michael Bloomberg reportedly defended New York's reputation as "the safest big city in the country."